Incentive & Reward Programs that Work for Banks and Financial Companies

The consumer’s confidence in banks and financial institutions has been declining for a long time now. The recent Equifax hack did nothing to increase that confidence. Many banks and financial companies are turning to loyalty programs to improve the customer experience and retain clients.

One popular business theory is that if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers. Incentive reward programs lead to engaged employees who are in a more positive frame of mind, are committed to the goals of the financial institution and work hard to improve the customer experience.

Taking Care of Financial Company Employees with Incentive Rewards

Incentive, reward & recognition programs contribute to a positive corporate culture, increase employee loyalty, reduce turnover, improve performance and increase market share and profitability.

The steps involved in constructing an effective incentive rewards program are the same for every industry, including banks and financial institutions:

  • Start with the goals or objectives. Keep it simple and concise. Choose 2 or 3 clear, measurable goals and decide how you’ll measure success.
  • Identify your participant audience. Chances are good the entire organization is not in a position to help reach the goals. Identify those employees who can help:  that’s your program audience.
  • Research/Audience Involvement. What resources or tools are necessary to help your employees reach their goals? Involve representatives of your participant audience in the discussion, and in the design of the incentive program. Be as transparent as possible in the process of structuring your program.
  • Budget & Rule Structure. Will you be rewarding teams or individuals? Will this be an open-ended program where every employee that reaches their target earns the reward or a closed-ended program where you define the number of reward recipients on the front end? The program structure informs your budget.
  • Select Rewards. Again, ideally with representatives of your participant audience. Inviting participants to provide input into the reward choices take the guesswork out of the selection.  Incentive rewards should be appropriate to your brand, within your budget and “worth it” to your employees.
  • Communicate. Announce the program in as many channels as possible, but also remember to communicate with your audience throughout the program. Ongoing updates keep the participants engaged and aware of their progress.
  • Administer the program / track results. Run the program and measure success according to your rule structure and budget.
  • Fulfill the Rewards. The more immediately, the better. Experienced vendor partners will specialize in providing rewards for corporate programs including banks and financial companies and can provide great advice as well as excellent fulfillment services.
  • Evaluate & Measure. In step 1, you decided what to measure; this is where you measure it. Even poor results can be valuable as you decide how to adjust the program to make it more effective. Your analysis should include any outside factors that may have contributed to the success (or failure) of the program, such as inventory issues, environmental or legislative factors, etc.
  • Celebrate Success! Support from the top is critical, so involve your company leaders in the celebration events. Ideally, rewards or the news of the rewards communicated in person. When that’s not possible, make sure that all program participants have access to the program results and have an opportunity to congratulate the top achievers.

Cautions When Designing Incentive Reward Programs for Financial Companies

Program planners need to be mindful when using the word “incentive” in relation to reward and recognition programs. Incentives, especially when cash is used as the reward vehicle, are often confused with compensation. Choosing tangible merchandise, travel or other experiences as your incentive rewards will avoid the confusion that cash can cause.

Likewise, it’s important to make sure that the rule structure doesn’t allow (or encourage!) employees to cheat to reach their goals. Financial companies concerned about being transparent and above-board in communicating their employee programs can manage this within the rule structure of the program.

Incentive, reward and recognition programs are important to the employee experience – to the extent that some HR managers tout them in recruiting interviews. Partnering with an experienced firm to help your bank or financial company design an effective incentive rewards program will help achieve company goals while avoiding unintended consequences.

Online Rewards is one of the companies that develops incentive rewards programs that achieve results for financial companies. Visit their website here:


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